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Exclusive Test Data: Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills 

students at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire showed extensive progress in critical thinking over four years, as measured by a test called the CLA+. Above, Kate Frederick, a sophomore. Photo: Cheryl Senter for The Wall Street Journal

Students at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire showed extensive progress in critical thinking over four years, as measured by a test called the CLA+. Above, Kate Frederick, a sophomore. Photo: Cheryl Senter for The Wall Street Journal

Results of a standardized measure of reasoning ability show many students fail to improve over four years—even at some flagship schools, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of nonpublic results.

writes: Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.

At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)

At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.

Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.

For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.

Plymouth State University student Madalyn Stevens, standing, performed in a mock trial in a class led by Prof. Maria Sanders, seated at rear, designed to develop critical-thinking skills. Photo: Cheryl Senter for The Wall Street Journal

Plymouth State University student Madalyn Stevens, standing, performed in a mock trial in a class led by Prof. Maria Sanders, seated at rear, designed to develop critical-thinking skills. Photo: Cheryl Senter for The Wall Street Journal

Some academic experts, education researchers and employers say the Journal’s findings are a sign of the failure of America’s higher-education system to arm graduates with analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in a fast-changing, increasingly global job market. Read the rest of this entry »

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Middle-School Teacher Kills Self After Being Accused of Sex with Student 

Middle school teacher and married mother-of-three, 47, ‘kills herself in front of cops’ one day after she was accused of having sex with a student.

Snejana Farberov reports: A middle school teacher and married mother-of-three was found dead inside her home from a suspected suicide Tuesday, one day after she was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a former student.

Gretchen Krohnfeldt, 47, was pronounced dead in her Arvada home at around 1pm. There was no immediate word on her cause and manner of death.

CBS Denver reported, citing unnamed police sources, that the eighth-grade social studies teacher at Drake Middle School took her own life as police officers were approaching her home to interview her about the alleged affair.

The suspected suicide was reportedly witnessed by at least one law enforcement official.

On Monday, Krohnfeldt was placed on administrative leave after a resource officer at Drake Middle School received a tip that the veteran educator had a tryst with a former student, who was now in high school.

Krohnfeldt was placed on administrative leave after a resource officer at Drake Middle School (pictured) in Jefferson County, Colorado, got a tip  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4496290/Teacher-kills-self-accused-sex-student.html#ixzz4gpmlHse1  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Krohnfeldt was placed on administrative leave after a resource officer at Drake Middle School (pictured) in Jefferson County, Colorado, got a tip.

According to a statement put out by the Arvada Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the initial report was made by a Drake staffer.

The local CBS station reported that the school employee claimed to have seen Krohnfeldt engage in unspecified inappropriate behavior with the male student months prior, but the staffer only came forward about it this week. Read the rest of this entry »


Code Name ‘Precious Little’: Delaware Governor Jack Markell Accidentally Tweets Photo of Woman in Bondage Gear

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Associated Press reports: Delaware governor Jack Markell was apologizing this afternoon after mistakenly tweeting a photograph of a woman in bondage gear.

His office tweeted the racy photo accidentally while publicizing a public education initiative.

The photo, showing a blonde woman wearing a black leather collar around her neck, was soon deleted and replaced with an apology. Read the rest of this entry »


Juice Box Enemies of the State

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Children Being Arrested for Trivial Things

#1 At one public school down in Texas, a 12-year-old girl named Sarah Bustamantes was recently arrested for spraying herself with perfume.

#2 A 13-year-old student at a school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recently arrested by police for burping in class.

[Also see – Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces]

#3 Another student down in Albuquerque was forced to strip down to his underwear while five adults watched because he had $200 in his pocket. The student was never formally charged with doing anything wrong.

#4 A security guard at one school in California broke the arm of a 16-year-old girl because she left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning up some cake that she had spilled.

#5 One teenage couple down in Houston poured milk on each other during a squabble while they were breaking up. Instead of being sent to see the principal, they were arrested and sent to court.

#6 In early 2010, a 12-year-old girl at a school in Forest Hills, New York was arrested by police and marched out of her school in handcuffs just because she doodled on her desk. “I love my friends Abby and Faith” was what she reportedly scribbled on her desk. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Education Spending Skyrockets Year after Year, but Student Achievement Stays Stagnant

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Andrew J. Coulson writes:  Since the early 1970s, the federal government has tracked the academic achievement of American 17-year-olds.

Presented with this dismal national picture, many pundits and elected officials protest that their own states have done better.

“Overall, the correlation between spending and achievement is among the lowest I have ever seen in social-science research: 0.08 on a scale from 0 to 1.”

The trouble is, there’s been no way to verify their claims. State-level test score averages don’t reach back that far, or, as with the SAT, they aren’t taken by a representative sample of all students.

[Check out Glen Reynolds book “The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself” from Amazon]

But there’s a way over this hurdle: State-level academic trends can be estimated all the way back to 1972, and the results aren’t pretty. (See the charts that accompany this post).

The average state has seen a three-percent decline in math and verbal test scores, and a 120-percent increase in real spending per pupil. Read the rest of this entry »